Crime and Punishment

Dalrymple has something to say about the notion that serving a prison sentence means that a criminal has “paid his debt to society”:

Crime and punishment are not two entries in an account book with, say, armed robbery on the liability side and imprisonment on the asset side. Punishment is not debt-collection. If it were, a parent would be able to say to his child ‘I am sending you to bed early tonight so that you can misbehave tomorrow.’ No one can volunteer to do twelve years in prison in advance on the understanding that he can kill someone on his release without incurring further punishment.

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